Trump: 'NATO is obsolete'

  • 28/03/2016
Donald Trump (AAP)
Donald Trump (AAP)

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has doubled down on his criticism of NATO, a cornerstone of US foreign policy for decades, calling for the alliance's overhaul just days before world leaders convene in Washington.

President Barack Obama will host the Nuclear Security Summit on Thursday and Friday with 56 delegations in attendance. While preventing nuclear terrorism will headline the discussions, Trump's views could be a topic as well, particularly behind the scenes.

In another sharp departure from historic US policy, Trump said in an interview published on Sunday (US time) by The New York Times that he would consider letting Japan and South Korea build their own nuclear weapons, rather than rely on the US for protection against North Korea and China.

"NATO is obsolete," Mr Trump said on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

The 28-country North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was set up in a different era, Mr Trump said, when the main threat to the West was the Soviet Union. It is ill-suited to fighting terrorism and costs the United States too much, he added.

"We should readjust NATO ... it can be trimmed up and it can be, uh, it can be reconfigured and you can call it NATO, but it's going to be changed," he said.

On March 21, Mr Trump said the United States should slash its financial support for NATO, which was formed in 1949 after World War II and became a bulwark against Soviet expansionism.

Russia will not attend the upcoming nuclear summit, but China's President Xi Jinping will.

Mr Trump's chief rival for the Republican nomination, Texas Senator Ted Cruz called the real estate mogul's views on NATO "catastrophically foolish." Speaking on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Mr Cruz said Mr Trump is "out of his depth".

"Abandoning Europe, withdrawing from the most successful military alliance of modern times, it makes no sense at all," Mr Cruz said.

Mr Cruz said if he were elected president, his approach to Islamic State would be to "carpet bomb them into oblivion".